Valencia (välānˈthēä) [key], autonomous region (1990 pop. 3,902,429) and former kingdom, E Spain, on the Mediterranean. It now comprises the provinces of Alicante, Castellón, and Valencia. It was established as an autonomous region in 1982 by the statute of autonomy. The country is chiefly mountainous, with a fertile coastal plain, on which most of the population is concentrated. The Mediterranean climate has helped to make Valencia the "garden of Spain." Irrigation and an intensive system of cultivation were started by the Moors. Citrus and other fruits, rice, vegetables, cereals, olive oil, and wine are now produced. Many of these products (especially Valencia oranges) are exported. The mulberry tree has been cultivated for silk since ancient times, but the silk industry has declined. Processed foods, ceramics, metal products, furniture, and textiles are the chief manufactures. Tourism, especially to coastal resorts, has become more important. In 1980 a nuclear power plant was built in Valencia prov.
Many prehistoric remains have been found in Valencia. Inhabited by the Iberians in early times, it was later colonized by Greek and Carthaginian traders. It was a battlefield between the Carthaginians and the Romans (see Sagunto). It passed to the Moors in the 8th cent. At the fall of the caliphate of Córdoba it became (1022) an independent emirate. The Cid briefly ruled the city and district of Valencia (1094–99). The rule of the Almoravids and Almohads was followed by a brief period of independence. Valencia was ruled (1238–52) by James I of Aragón. It preserved its political identity within the Aragonese confederation and later in the Spanish state, but its privileges were completely abolished (18th cent.) by Philip V. The 14th and 15th cent. were a period of economic prosperity and artistic flowering; decline came after the expulsion of the Moors (1609). The region has had an economic revival in the 20th cent.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Spanish and Portuguese Political Geography